Caribbean ballads. Seminal B-Boy Breaks. Collectively sampled by thousands. Boisterous, bragging, big band, Boogaloo. Brazilian bass-lines. Dancing duets between dulcet tones and dextrous guitars. Hip-shaking Exotica. Acoustically strummed – Terry Callier-esque – Folk. Don`t forget, that as James Brown once said, “It`s all Folk music, `cos it`s all made by folks.” Squelch-y, synth-y Fusion. Hammond jams. Organ-grinders. A sound that became synonymous with Acid Jazz (when Acid Jazz – at least initially – was really something like Terumasa Hino`s Merry Go Round). Harp-led Funk. Loft favourites. Plunder from DJ Harvey`s Moist Top 51. Mothers Of Invention banging out Piano Boogie. String-soaked Rare Groove seductions. Nyah-Rock. From Guyana, Saint Vincent, and Jamaica, via 70s London. A tune cited by the Stone Roses as a baggy, loose-limbed influence. Crazy, Psychedelic, phased and twisted, Nassau Soul. A screeching, skronking, spirit-lifting anthem. 70s Stomps. Sexed-up Curtis Mayfield covers. Orchestrated readings of Gil Scott-Heron`s poetry. Raps on the state of the nation. “Listen to me legislator.” How can a song about American inequality, and poverty, recorded fifty years ago still be fucking relevant? Testimonials to love. Calls for freedom, and a return to “The Promised Land”.
All these reissues are – cash willing – essential. As Gilles P used to say on Kiss FM, “Every home should have one”. Most here are classics. A few, more obscure. For me they represent selections from scribbled “Wants Lists” that I`ve carried for years. Cribbed from the charts in Snowboy`s definitive From Jazz-Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz. Plucked from comps such as BBE`s Stop & Listen, Dusty Fingers, Irma`s Groovy collections, and the complete volumes of Street Sounds` Jazz Juice. Spots from the heyday of Talkin` Loud & Saying Something. Sundays afternoons at Dingwalls, in Camden. Music that set me trawling London`s Second-hand shops through the 90s and 00s – most of which have disappeared – as I made the transition from Post-A&E Techno lost-it to record librarian.
Now, finding these tunes couldn’t be easier. And for that you have the people at Backatcha, Mr. Bongo, Cadet, Dynamic Range, Dynamite Cuts, Everland, Expansion, Get On Down, and Japan’s Oldays to thank. Even with the sides that I already owned, these reissues provided a chance to partner battered originals with clean, scratch and crackle-free – often remastered – new, legit copies. Sought after LP tracks, for the first time, pressed up onto 12s and 45s.
Bilal Sabir – Changes – Backatcha
Acoustic Soul from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Remastered from a 1978 promotional single by Backatcha, it recalls both Terry Callier, and Larry T. & The Family.
Cymande – Fug – Mr Bongo
A London-based group made up of ex-pats from Guyana, Saint Vincent and Jamaica. Purveyors of “Nyah-Rock”, and Rastafarian Folk songs. Championed by the New York likes of Kool DJ Herc. The loose Funk of Fug – from 1973`s Second Time Around – was a definite influence on the Stone(d) Roses. Mr Bongo have put it on a 45 with the equally cool / influential Brothers On The Slide.
Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers – Right On – Dynamite Cuts
Positive Hammond vibrations from the saxophonist / bandleader`s 1970 LP, Doing What We Wanna. Dynamite Cuts cherry-picking two tracks for an AA-sided 7.
Skull Snaps – Its A New Day – Mr Bongo
A break that`s been sampled nearly 500 times (according to whosampled.com) by artists such as Gangstarr, Kanye West, Mobb Deep, Ol Dirty Bastard, The Pharcyde, and The Prodigy. A song of strength in unity, that`s been repressed many times, but I think this is a first legit outing for the whole LP.
Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto – Cadet
Californian Soul and righteous indignation taken from the 1968 Spice Of Life long-player. There`s also a remastered 12 of Marlena`s 1978 Disco cover of Diana Ross` Touch Me In The Morning in the shops.
Esther Phillips – Home Is Where The Hatred Is – Kudu
Esther`s big cover of Gil Scott-Heron paean to white powder dreams, initially a hit on her 1971 album, From A Whisper To A Scream. Now remastered on a 45.
Jon Lucien – Would You Believe In Me – RCA
Jon`s four-track E.P. – to promote his 1973 Rashida LP – now split across two 7s. All large Jazz dancers.
Sylvia Striplin – You Cant Turn Me Away – Expansions
A Rare Groove taken from the Give Me Your Love album. Released in 1981 on Roy Ayers` Uno Melodic Records. The title track is a more uptempo winner. Expansion also have a Uno Melodic compilation in the shops (which features classics such as Bobbi Humphrey`s Baby Don`t You Know). A lot of Roy`s own back catalogue seems to have been reissued recently, but I`m not sure how legit those represses are.
Sisters Love – Give Me Your Love – Get On Down
A Curtis Mayfield cover that used to be a big end of the nighter for us at Bonobo. Once edited by Danny Krivit for extended pleasure. Taken from the With Love LP.
The Futures – Aint No Time Fa Nothing – Expansion
Philadelphia Soul, another Rare Groove, and a Sir Norman Jay favourite. From 1978. I had my OG copy nicked recently, so am super happy about this reissue.
Keni Burke – Rising To The Top – RCA
The Chicago bass-man`s Chart-topping hit from 1982. Partnered on a 12 with You`re The Best.
Dorothy Ashby – Soul Vibrations – Cadet
From Dorothy`s Richard Evans-produced 1968 LP, Afro-Harping. Which also contains her cover of Freddie Hubbard`s Little Sunflower – a Jose Padilla / Cafe Del Mar spin.
Norman Connors – Chuka – Dynamite Cuts
A 2X45 double pack lifting the key tracks from Norman`s 1974 Slewfoot album. Chuka`s more brassy, more funky, while Mother Of The Future is an essential, racing, percussion-rattling, piece of Jazz Dance.
George Benson – The World Is A Ghetto – Dynamic Range
George`s cover of War`s Loft classic, lifted from his 1977 long-player, In flight, which also includes the suburban wine bar staple, Nature Boy. I picked up a copy after hearing Gilles play it on Kiss one Sunday night. Back when The Blue Note in Horton was the place. Dynamic Range have it pressed on a 12.
George Duke – I Want You For Myself – Epic
Ex-Mothers Of Invention keyboardist goes Latin Boogie, from his 1979 album, Master Of The Game. Harvey hammered this at his London club night, Moist. The 2018 reissue partners it on a 12 with the equally huge Brazilian Love Affair (recorded in 1981, with assistance from Airto, Milton Nascimento, and Flora Purim).
Judy Roberts – Never Was Love – Dynamic Cuts
The Chicago Jazz veteran with a Brazil-influenced squeeze of Jazz Juice from 1979. First time on a 45, and coupled with the mellower, Fantasy – which I put on the last Chocolate Milk And Brandy.
5th Degree – You Got Me Hypnotized – Backatcha
Mad 7” of “Island Soul”, spun around – and Psychedela-sized – by no holds barred studio trickery.
James Mason – Sweet Power Your Embrace – Dynamite Cuts
Another double-pack of two 45s, and four tracks, repressed from James` legendary Rhythm Of Life LP. Sweet Power…, and Free, are both Electric Fusion from 1977 that charge along like Proto-Proto-House.
Pharaoh Sanders – You’ve Got To Have Freedom – Expansion
An out and out anthem. This version taken from Pharaoh`s Journey To The One. A tune that never fails to lift my mood. Expansion have it on a 12, along with his cover of Marvin Gaye`s Got To Give It Up (from 1980s Love Will Find A Way).
Alice Babs – Back To Canaan – Dynamite Cuts
A swinging Carole King cover from the Swedish singer / musician, Eurovision runner-up`s 1973 LP, Music With A Jazz Flavour. Again, now on a 45.
Sabu Martinez – The Oracle – Oldays
Two tracks on a 7 from the super rare 1961 album, Sabu’s Jazz Espagnole. Sabu was a conga-playing bandleader, a Cubop star, who worked with names such as Count Basie, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, and Horace Silver.
Pete Rodriguez – I Like It Like That – Oldays
The Bronx-born King Of Boogaloo boasting and bragging in big band call and response. From 1967, and like the Sabu Martinez tracks, licensed, via Fania, from Al Santiago’s Alegre Records – which back in the 50s and 60s was run out of his Manhattan Casa Alegre (“Happy House”) record store.
Starvue – Body Fusion – Everland
A slow grind of Rare Groove seduction, with amazing strings. Outta Chicago on the 1980 album Upward Bound. This track`s been booted a few times, but I think this is the first time the whole LP`s been put back out there on vinyl.